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Indybay Feature
San Fran Activists Launch Ford Campaign in LA
by Paul West (pwest [at]
Sunday Jan 11th, 2004 11:33 AM
Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network scale downtown LA skyscraper and release giant banner to protest US oil addition
On Wednesday, January 8, human rights and environmental activists with San Fran-based groups, Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network, daringly repelled down a 32-story skyscraper near the Los Angeles Auto Show and unfurled a giant banner reading, “Ford: Holding America Hostage to Oil.”

The unfurling of the banner occurred as people entered the LA Auto Show just blocks away. The banner was designed to raise public awareness about how Ford Motor Company and other auto manufacturers are needlessly keeping the US dependent on oil by refusing to increase the fuel economy of their vehicles.

The 40-foot by 60-foot banner featured an arm of a corporate executive holding a gas nozzle to the head of the Statue of Liberty as if ready to shoot the icon of freedom. Above the graphic were the words, “Ford: Holding America Hostage to Oil.” Auto show attendees looked on in shock as activists unfurled the banner.

“A typical Ford vehicle on the road today gets fewer miles per gallon than the Model-T did 80 years ago,” said Jason Mark, Clean Car Campaigner with the human rights group Global Exchange. “Ford is driving in reverse. It’s a disgrace to Ford Motor Company’s tradition of ingenuity. Proven technology exists to double the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks. Yet Ford is turning its back on these solutions. Bill Ford says he wants to create an ‘environmental car company,’ but there’s a huge gap between his rhetoric and reality. ”

“Our own automakers are holding us hostage to oil,” said Mike Brune, executive director of the environmental organization Rainforest Action Network. “Americans want energy independence and that means freedom from our oil addiction. Oil addiction endangers the lungs of the planet—our forests. It also endangers our economy. Ending America’s addiction to oil is a matter of national security.”

Public opinion polls show that 8 in 10 Americans—including 84 percent of autoworker households—support tougher fuel economy rules. But Ford is failing to meet the desire for better fuel mileage. According to a 2003 EPA report, Ford's vehicles rank the lowest of any major automaker in overall fuel economy, and its cars are worse than GM’s when it comes to global warming pollutants.

Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network are among a national coalition of more than 80 public interest organizations calling on Ford to double the fuel economy of its vehicles by 2010 and completely eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020.

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